Writing tasks down, and prioritising them, brings a degree of order, but doesn't reduce my anxiety at tasks being incomplete. Of course, the demands of day-to-day existence inevitably mean that non-urgent correspondence goes unanswered, holiday photos remain unsorted, minor DIY jobs aren't dealt with, and so on.
Sometimes, the tasks are goals that I've set arbitrarily, which are neither essential nor urgent, such as my resolution to refresh my foreign language skills by watching at least one French film a month.
Nevertheless, failure to achieve any aim leaves an 'untidy' feeling in my mind.
One task that had been hanging over me for a very long time was to catch up with my writing magazines: Writers News, Writing Magazine and Mslexia.
Not only do I read these, I also mark up websites or contacts that are worth checking out, along with articles to be torn out wholesale and filed for future reference.
Until recently, I was holding 32 magazines for research and filing to be done. I hadn't actually finished reading the oldest, which dated from October 2009, and hadn't started four of them. The pile would have been even bigger, if I hadn't already cancelled the subscriptions.
|Image courtesy of bplanet/|
My perfectionist nature led me to hang onto these magazines: I just couldn't get rid of them until I'd completed the tasks I'd set myself. Finally, though, I'd had enough of looking at this constant reminder of my failure; they now reside in the bottom of our flats' communal recycling bin.
I only managed to throw them out after some internal argument and justification, though. I reminded myself that, since marking up items in these magazines, I've changed writing tack - I'm planning to self-publish - so my interests have changed accordingly. Also, a lot of the information would have been out-of-date and could probably be found online if I needed it.
In a way, it was also my perfectionism that provoked me to dispose of them: if I can't do a job properly, I'd rather not do it at all.
The clunk of the magazines hitting the bottom of the bin was very final; the bin is too deep to retrieve anything from it, without triggering a host of contamination issues.
It was also very liberating. Sometimes, you just have to accept that you can't do everything.